Whether your holidays are low-key or filled to the brim with activity, enjoying a favorite spot or special event with family and friends is one sure way to savor the season. From to dazzling light displays and musical shows to ice skating under the stars, Missouri offers a multitude of ways to create magical, memorable holiday traditions.
For many families, the Christmas season is not complete without a trip to see holiday lights. The lighting of the Country Club Plaza on Thanksgiving Day has been a Kansas City tradition for nearly nine decades. Thousands of jewel-tone lights will illuminate the 15-block shopping district Nov. 22-Jan. 13, creating a sparkling display you'll want to see year after year.
Silver Dollar City glows with more than 6.5 million lights and 1,000 decorated trees during An Old Time Christmas Nov. 3-Dec. 30. The celebration features holiday treats, Rudolph's Holly Jolly Christmas Light Parade, the Frisco Sing-Along Steam Train and Broadway-style stage productions of A Dickens' Christmas Carol and It's a Wonderful Life.
Trees to Trim
Climb aboard a wagon pulled by a pair of Belgian horses for a trip through the Christmas tree fields at Meier Horseshoe Pines Tree Farm near Jackson. After you select a white pine, Scotch pine, Norway spruce or cedar, a field worker will cut your tree and prepare it for the trip home. The farm also offers fresh wreaths and garlands and a Christmas shop.
At Starr Pines Christmas Tree Farm near Boonville, take a hay ride through the tree-filled fields to select your own Scotch pine or fir. Saws are provided to cut your own tree, which is wrapped so you can easily transport it. While you're there, enjoy hot spiced cider, visit the craft and antique shop, and meet the resident mules.
The Branson Scenic Railway's Polar Express departs from the Branson Depot Nov. 2-Dec. 23 for the "North Pole" to pick up Santa Claus. During the trip, listen to the classic children's story The Polar Express and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies served by the train's chefs. Santa visits each rail car to present passengers with a special gift.
At St. Louis Union Station, the Polar Express Train Ride Nov. 16-Dec. 30 offers an adventure-filled trip with stories, songs and holiday cheer. Santa and his reindeer await at the "North Pole" with a keepsake present for every girl and boy.
Nothing embodies the magic of Christmas quite like The Nutcracker. The ballet performed to the traditional Tchaikovsky score is a holiday favorite featuring elaborate costumes, sets and special effects. The show will be presented by the Kansas City Ballet, Nov. 30-Dec. 23; the St. Louis Ballet, Dec. 14-23; and the Springfield Ballet, Dec. 14-17. The Moscow Ballet will perform the Great Russian Nutcracker at locations across the state, including Springfield, Nov. 20; Columbia, Nov. 28; St. Louis, Dec. 2-3; Cape Girardeau, Dec. 11-12; and Kansas City, Dec. 2.
Dozens of shows in Branson put their holiday spirit on display during November and December with Christmas performances and special guest appearances. From magic and comedy to music of all genres, Branson shows have become a treasured tradition for many families.
The holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, will be presented Dec. 12-13 at the Lyceum Theatre in the historic town of Arrow Rock. The familiar story about the seemingly heartless miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, and the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future will be brought to life at one of Missouri's oldest professional regional theaters.
The month-long Christmas Traditions, Nov. 23-Dec. 24, in St. Charles highlights yuletide sights and sounds of yesteryear. The event features more than 80 legendary holiday characters, outdoor concerts, a sugar plum dance party, a Santa parade, shopping and dining throughout the historic downtown area. At the end of the day, a candlelight procession features the Cobblestone Wassailiers leading a sing-a-long of traditional Christmas songs beneath the glow of St. Charles' Christmas tree.
Weston celebrates the spirit of the season during its Annual Candlelight Homes Tour Dec. 1-2. Historic houses, churches and the Holladay Distillery are dressed up for the holidays. Watch for Father Christmas while you tour the history-filled downtown district and travel the luminary-lined streets by horse and carriage.
Experience an ice skating rink like no other – bathed in the glow of the Gateway Arch. Enjoy the outdoor rink and special events (and hot chocolate!) at the Winterfest Ice Rink at Kiener Plaza Nov. 17-Jan. 1. In St. Louis' Forest Park, Steinberg Skating Rink, the largest outdoor ice skating rink in the Midwest, offers public skating every day – including holidays. The rink is open from mid-November through February.
In Kansas City, the Crown Center Ice Terrace offers outdoor ice skating sheltered by a billowing white tent and a view of the Mayor's Christmas Tree. Public skating is available every day except Christmas November through March. At Kansas City's Worlds of Fun, ice skating on Snow Flake Lake features giant projected "snowflakes" swirling across the ice. Skating is offered during the park's WinterFest event Nov. 23-Dec. 31.
Written by Liz Coleman